Saturday, August 12, 2017

Living at the Core 9: Embracing the Gap

Living at the core means learning to be able to embrace the gap between what we envision and what is actually our reality given different limitations. It means recognizing our longings but then discovering that sometimes fulfilling those longings will be packaged in a different way than we had expected. It means recognizing our goals but then allowing space for the process to take place. It means being able to distinguish between different types of gaps and determining which are the gaps we need to focus on continually narrowing and which are the gaps we need to accept as lesser gaps to find peace with in order to focus on those of more importance.

Recently, the concept of approximations in The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections resonated with me. In the June 24th reflection, Heidi Bratton talked about contentment and approximations that can end up being even better than what we initially envisioned as the goal in reference to her dreams to spend family time near water, yet recognizing an obstacle in the financial obligation of a vacation rental based on their current geographic location. She mentioned her surprise at the outcome when she took a chance to follow some advice that she doubted related to the power of approximations. She reflected, "we purchased a membership to a private lake near our house. We spent more time on the water that summer than if we had rented a lake-side cottage for a week and for a fraction of the cost. Most of all, it more than satisfied my dreams of big-time family fun." As a result, sometimes embracing the gap means that we readjust our original dreams that seemed out of reach to realize that an alternative approximation that is feasible will actually be better for us anyway or is at least worth trying and recognizing the beauty it does have to offer, rather than being hung up on it not being exactly as we had wanted.

As a wife, mom, and educator, embracing the gap means recognizing that the vision of what is ideal in each of those roles is often not realistic based on limitations of time and energy. Instead, I have to determine the best I can do with what I have and then be happy with what I was able to offer, rather than dwelling on the distance between where I got and where I wanted to be. Learning to do so was what helped me to have a breakthrough in setting healthy career boundaries, rather than constantly pushing the limits and losing the career-family balance battle because of the sense that I needed to do a better job no matter how many hours I had already poured into a certain project or curriculum design. I had to realize that I needed to have proper priorities of what mattered most and be able to offer less than perfect in some areas in order to also dedicate time to areas of more importance. With ministry, and area that does feel of greater overall importance, embracing the gap meant being able to serve in capacities, rather than letting my own limitations prompt me to say, "If I cannot accomplish my vision fully, I will not do it at all." It was about recognizing that I should offer what I have with love and humility, rather than letting the gap be an obstacle.

When it comes to the ultimate priority, our overall purpose in life though, becoming saints, embracing the gap means recognizing that while always striving toward the target of increased holiness and to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), we have to allow space for the process to occur. We have to be willing to recognize the gap between who we are and who we want to become in order to then participate in on-going cycles of considering where God is calling us to grow next at any given time and then focusing on that. It is about living a sacramental life steeped in prayer and then being grateful for the graces provided to aid us on that journey. It is about dedicating time to read Scripture and access resources related to the lives of Saints so that we can ponder implications for how we can pattern our own lives after Jesus and the Saints who successfully did so. It is about seeing ourselves in the lives of others seeking to live a holy life and understanding how God interacts with his people in order to view the great hope for the transformations he can make in our lives if we allow him to do so. It is about seeing the gaps as areas for growth in humility and the realization that we are fully dependent on God.

We all have to deal with gaps in our lives, to recognize our own limitations and to consider which are the gaps worth fighting for, which are the gaps worth letting go of, and which are the gaps we should find joy with approximations. How are you called to recognize, embrace, and respond to the different gaps in your life right now?

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